Happy 102nd Birthday, Roy!

by Kjirstin Youngberg
(Mapleton, Utah)

One thing I know; he's thankful to be in heaven with Dale, Robin, Debbie and Sandy, all the Triggers and Bullet instead of still here on earth. I know there are happy trails there, and he's riding them on his "favorite" Trigger.

Growing up in Victorville, I had the pleasure of knowing the family. They were generous and kind, always making themselves available for others. Roy would often hang out at his museum, giving tourists a thrill, and answering their many questions - which he'd heard a thousand times - with patience and authority.

One big thrill of my life happened in ninth grade, when I was sitting in the passenger seat of the parked Cadillac Bonneville with horns on the hood and silver dollars embedded in the seats. My friend Dodie was "driving" and I was afraid we'd get into trouble as Roy came around the side of the carport. He just smiled and said, "Slide over, Dodie; I need to give her a spin." She climbed over the diamond saddle and the pistol (the gear shift and door handles were silver six-shooters) and squeezed in with me while he drove the Caddie around the yard. It had a name, like all his cars, but I can't remember what he called it. It was thrilling because that was the first convertible I ever rode in.... that Roy Rogers himself was at the wheel was secondary. To me, he was just Dodie's Dad. Wowza!

I think the best Roy Rogers story I have, though, came through a third person - Chet Watkins - who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Victorville. I was there for a story (I was a reporter/photographer for the Daily Press at the time) and saw a brand new compact car coming off a tow truck, caked in mud. Chet walked over to it, laughing and said, "Here's a story for ya - Roy Rogers bought this car last week. He called this morning to say it was 'no good' and to have it towed." He pointed up into the wheel wells to show me mud so thick the tires couldn't turn. "Roy was out in the pasture, after all that rain last week, trying to herd cattle in this little Nova."

Was the story true? Never reported it or checked with Roy, so I don't really know, but certainly wouldn't put it past him.

Happy Birthday, Len/Roy Rogers. You're one cowboy worth remembering.

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